The ongoing war between Zuffa, LLC and the Culinary Workers Union continues to rage on with the latest shot fired being a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking for an investigation into the UFC for violating anti-trust laws.
In a letter filed to the FTC on Aug. 31, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 asked the commission to research and determine if Zuffa and the UFC have achieved a position too dominant in the world of MMA, and thus violated anti-trust laws.
The letter states that Zuffa and the UFC have purchased other competitors such as Pride, Strikeforce, and the WEC, and, as of 2008, controlled “80 to 90 percent” of the mixed martial arts market.
They also allege that the UFC has strengthened that position through “exclusionary conduct by refusing to co-promote events, as well as anti-competitive contractual restraints that severely limit a professional athlete’s freedom of movement.”
The Culinary Union points to UFC contract requirements such as a “champion’s clause,” which automatically extends a competitor’s contract if they win or hold a title in the promotion, as well as exclusive negotiating rights and licensing rights for image and likeness.
The letter goes on to explain the UFC’s policy on co-promotion and points to negotiations that broke down between the promotion when dealing with Fedor Emelianenko due to M-1 Global’s insistence on co-promotion as part of his contract.
They accuse Zuffa of violating the Sherman Act, which “prohibits monopolization or attempts to monopolize in restraint of trade.”
The Culinary Union is essentially asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zuffa for their business practices, and to determine if they are violating anti-trust laws.
UFC president Dana White has maintained for months that the Culinary Union has a vendetta against Zuffa because of an ongoing beef with them and Station Casinos.
Station Casinos, owned and operated by the Fertitta brothers, who also own a majority stake in Zuffa, is the largest non-union gaming company in the United States. The Culinary Union has been at war with Station Casinos for some time due to its operations without a union for its employees.
It appears they are taking their fight to a whole new front now.
White initially brought up the dispute when discussing the problems they’ve had getting the sport sanctioned in New York State.
“It has nothing to do with MMA. It has to do with the Culinary Union,” White said. “They’re very powerful in New York. These unions on the east coast are still strong like the old school, and that’s really what’s going on.”
While the letter filed on Wednesday doesn’t mention the state of New York, it obviously shows that the Culinary Union is openly challenging Zuffa.
The Federal Trade Commission employs over 300 people and has an open door policy regarding things like anti-trust laws, but there’s no telling if they will launch an investigation or what kind of timeline exists for them to do so.